Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post for $250 million Monday marks one of the most significant media acquisitions in years–a new foray into journalism for one of Silicon Valley’s most admired and respected figures.
That much was clear from the immediate media reaction Monday.
In his handoff, Don Graham cited Bezos’ “personal decency” as a contributing factor in the decision to sell. The Amazon mogul was also hailed as an “original” by legendary Post reporter Bob Woodward, who said on Morning Joe that while he was sad to see the Grahams give up the business, the deal had “no downside.”
Appearing on NOW with Alex Wagner Tuesday, Washington Post Opinion columnist Jonathan Capehart agreed. “If Don Graham is selling it to Jeff Bezos as an individual then Jeff Bezos must share the Graham family’s values,” he said.
Bezos–whom Fortune Magazine dubbed “the disrupter” last year in awarding him its 2012 Businessman of the Year award–scooped up the journalistic institution for just a fraction–or 1%– of his $25 billion personal fortune.
“I think it’s both sad and exciting,” Politico Editor-in-chief John Harris–who spent many years at The Post–told Alex Wagner. ”I do believe we’re in an era of disruption in media, so you might as well embrace it.”
Several commentators, while cautious, gave the deal a preliminary thumbs-up.
Reuters’ Jack Shafer noted that Bezos’ “fluid politics make him a kind of West Coast beyondist” with the goods to deliver, while Slate’s Matthew Ygleasias said that while Bezos’ intentions for the time being remain unclear, he could turn out to be a “dream owner.”
The Washington Post posted an operating loss of $53.7 million last year and has seen its newsroom staff shrink from over 1,000 employees to roughly 640 today.
The purchase followed on the heels of The New York Times Company’s sale of The Boston Globe to Red Sox co-owner John Henry over the weekend. The Times bought The Globe for $1.1 billion in 1993 and sold it for a mere $70 million 20 years later.
Founded in 1877, The Washington Post has won 47 Pulitzer prizes in its storied history, including six in 2008. It’s most famous for its coverage of the Watergate scandal, immortalized in the book and movie, “All the President’s Men.”